Fans who bought all seven Harry Potter hardcover books, attended all eight movies in their first run, and purchased every DVD paid an average total of $401.08, according to DailyFinance research. Followers will fork over another $20 to $30 for the DVD or Blu-Ray of the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, several months from now.
"I think $400 spread out over 12 years and two different media [books and movies] is not a bad investment," John Altieri said outside a Brooklyn, N.Y., theater screening of Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Altieri's wife, Krista, pointed out that the books could be reread and passed around. "I guess the amount seems high out of pocket, but a lot of people share," she said.
Americans could buy J.K. Rowling's first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, in 1998 for $24.99, according to Amazon (AMZN). The last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, retailed for $34.99 in 2007. The first Warner Bros. (TWX) film adaptation premiered in 2001, when the average movie ticket cost $5.65, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. The cinematic finale, adapted from the second half of Rowling's swan song novel, is packing them in at an average of $10.85 a pop for the non-IMAX 3-D version.
"I think the movies were worth it," said Priyanka, 12, after she emerged from a Deathly Hallows: Part 2 screening.
Other patrons at the Pavilion cineplex in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood were less than spellbound when they heard the $401.08 figure. "That's a little steep," Kevin O'Donnell said. "It just sounds a bit pricey." O'Donnell owns three of the DVDs, incidentally. Elisa, 15, said, "It's not necessarily the best deal. The last one was not as interesting."
Note that the prices of past books and films quoted here were not adjusted for inflation. We also didn't include any Potter toys, tie-ins or other publications associated with the franchise. Nor did we take into account repeat ticket buyers either. So perhaps the derivation of the cost of Potter-mania isn't an exact science -- but what do you expect from a saga about a boy wizard with a magic wand?
Lily Dodd, 13, of Palo Alto, Calif., has read every book and seen every film in the theater and on DVD. She also has visited the Edinburgh cafe where Rowling began writing Harry Potter, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. But the series has had an impact far beyond entertainment value, she said. She was inspired to write fiction and start a Harry Potter charity at her school that provided books for another school.
"It changed my life," she said.
Can't put a price on that.